India, Nepal, Bhutan plan joint task force to protect wildlife

The governments of India, Nepal and Bhutan are actively considering having a joint task force for allowing free movement of wildlife across political boundaries and checking to smuggle of wildlife across the Kanchenjunga Landscape, a trans-boundary region spread across Nepal, India and Bhutan.

The developments come up after forest officials and representatives of the non-government organisation of the three countries visited parts of the landscape and later held a meeting at Siliguri in north Bengal earlier this month.

The developments come up after forest officials and representatives of the non-government organisation of the three countries visited parts of the landscape and later held a meeting at Siliguri in north Bengal earlier this month.

Setting up of a joint task force is a key requirement in the roadmap on achieving the objectives of free movement of wildlife and checking to smuggle of wildlife.

According to the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), a regional knowledge development and learning centre, 1,118 sq km of riverine grassland and tree cover were lost in the landscape between 2000 and 2010. 74 % of the area was converted into rangeland and 26% to agricultural land.

Other than seven million people, the Kanchenjunga Landscape is also home to 169 species of mammals and 713 species of birds. Studies by the ICIMOD suggest that between 1986 and 2015, as many as 425 people were killed by elephants and 144 elephants were killed between 1958 and 2013.

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